The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Rating: Very Good
Description: In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white'
The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.
Genre: Mystery, Classic Club
Why I Picked This Book: I've seen it on so many "Best of" lists that I figured it was time to read it.
My Impression: Going in I was expecting something Gothic-y and over the top and a super quick read. I think part of this was because I kept getting this confused with Woman in Black which is a very different story. No part of this book is a quick read and nothing really felt over the top though there is definitely something sinister lurking in the shadows. The story itself is gorgeously told. It's so richly done that I could only read a chapter or two at time without it becoming almost too much - like incredibly delicious chocolate cake where you can only have a few bites at a time. That being said this book stuck with me. Frequently when I'm reading a book a little at a time the story will lose its impact and I'll spend the first few pages trying to reengage with the story. That was not the case with this book. I was instantly pulled back into the story as soon as I started reading the first sentence and it was just like pressing play on a movie I had paused. The story and the characters were instantly alive and richly drawn. At one point I had to take a 2 week break (library book,, had to go out of town, etc) and the story stayed just as crisp in my mind as if it had only been minutes.
This is definitely a plot driven story. Laura, Marian, Walter, Sir Percival and all the rest are clear in my mind but they weren't rounded out fully formed characters. They did serve as an excellent background for the larger the life Count Fosco and their backstories never got in the way of the story unfolding on the pages.
I don't want to say too much about the plot itself because I think I enjoyed it more with no real expectations but it's definitely a slow burn novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience. The bit I read each night was like a delicious little treat to end my day with!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I love Collins' writing style and hope to read The Moonstone soon.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I would! I think most readers would enjoy this though be prepared for it to take awhile!